An eastbound train crosses the Vermilion River during the Akron Railroad Club outing to Vermilion on Saturday. Club members spent the morning and early afternoon hours at the Vermilion marina.
It was a day that had just about a little of everything. With mostly sunny skies and a nice breeze, the weather was near ideal. Aside from an hour-long lull in early afternoon, there was plenty of train traffic. And the variety was about as good as you could hope for on the Norfolk Southern Chicago Line.
There was even a bonus just after 3 p.m. when fellow Akron Railroad Club member Dave Mangold led the 26E past us.
It was all in a day’s outing in Vermillion that was attended by seven ARRC members – eight if you count Dave’s short appearance – and which netted 32 trains over a 12-hour period that at least one attendee was able to spot.
It was the ARRC’s second outing to Vermilion, which is the hometown of member Todd Vander Sluis.
Rick Houck was the first to arrive at about 9 a.m. The host dropped in around 11, about the same time that Paul Tait.
ARRC President Craig Sanders pulled into the upper level parking lot for the Vermilion marina around 12:30 p.m. and much to his displeasure he was greeted with the westbound 21T rumbling across the bridge over the Vermilion River before he could get his camera out.
Why the fuss? Because the stacker was led by NS 6963, the GoRail locomotive.
ARRC Bulletin editor Marty Surdyk jointed the party just after 4 p.m. By then, we had moved from the marina to the railfan platform in Victory Park in downtown Vermilion.
Joining us to round out the attendance were Don Woods and Dave Shepherd, who had been out roaming with their cameras.
Aside from the steady parade of trains that NS fielded, we were also entertained by the harried Toledo East Dispatcher who was having a tough time finding open track to run all of the trains crowding her territory.
Crews were outlawing, the crossing gates were broken at a crossing east of our location, and there was traffic congestion in Cleveland and Toledo. Westbound trains were stacking up around CP 232 on Track No. 1.
As the dispatcher was explaining her plight to someone over the radio, a voice could be heard saying “you’re gonna die!”
Another light moment occurred when the 65R, an empty crude oil train, called the dispatcher to ask if he should move further west. The dispatcher replied “yes,” but it seemed as though crew and dispatcher were talking past each other.
Finally, the dispatcher said, “if you don’t accept the signal [at CP 219] I can’t move anything.”
At that point, there were trains standing still on both tracks on both sides of Vermilion. If the 65R would just move up to behind the 15N then the 64R, a loaded crude oil train, could move eastward as could the 24M, an intermodal train with several UPS trailers.
Aside from the GoRail unit, there was also some variety in motive power with BNSF, Canadian Pacific and Union Pacific units to be seen. Most of those were trailing, but a lone BNSF unit was leading an empty coal train westward.
The crew of that train was going as far as Sandusky where it would disembark to be taken back to CP 219 to move the 25V, which was tied down there on Track No. 1 after its crew ran out of time.
We never did see the 25V. That westbound train of coal hoppers was the last train we were able to photograph as the light of day was dying.
Perhaps the day’s highlight was 26E pass by just after 3 p.m. It was just your run of the mill intermodal train except that fellow ARRC member Dave Mangold was at the controls.
How did we know it was him? Well, Dave spent a lot of time talking with the 14K ahead of him and with the Toledo East dispatcher. We recognized his voice.
After bagging our last train, we headed for the nearby Quaker Steak and Lube. There were five of us left and only three made it to the Lube.
Rick’s car battery was dead and, fortunately for him, he was able to flag down Paul. The two of them finally made their way to Quaker Steak to join us.
Being the nice guy that he is – as well as being part owner of auto repair shop – Marty offered to help Rick jumpstart his Toyota Prius.
Marty hasn’t don’t much work on hybrid cars and he needed to bone on up the Prius. He consulted his go-to source of information: YouTube.
Not only did Marty learn how to jumpstart a Prius, he also learned how to clean out a garage.
All ended well. Marty got Rick’s car started and everyone made it safely home.
Next Sunday we’ll be back on the road again, this time spending the day in Alliance and Sebring. Maybe this time we’ll bag a bona fide NS heritage unit.
Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders
There were plenty of boats to watch as well as trains by the Vermilion marina.
NS is phasing our RoadRailers and there are just two of these trains left on the Chicago Line. No. 261 heads for Sandusky in front of the Vermilion railfan platform on Saturday afternoon.
The former Vermilion passenger station stands watch as the 21G forwards its containers westward.
The 15N had one of the more colorful motive power consists. Behind the lead NS unit is motive power of Canadian Pacific, BNSF and Union Pacific.
The Vermilion water tank looms as a westbound manifest train rolls through town.
The crew of the 65R finally accepted the signal at CP 219, crossed over to Track No. 1 and took its place waiting in line behind at least two other westbound trains.
A faded BNSF war bonnet leads the 64R through downtown Vermillion This train would need an NS locomotive to lead it out of Cleveland into cab signal territory on the Cleveland Line.
It’s glint shot time.
The sun gleams on the last tank car of the 64R as it heads for Cleveland. But not for long. The train stopped at CP 203 because the dispatcher did not have a route for it into Cleveland.
Last train of the day that we were able to photograph. The last rays of sunlight illuminate the nose of a BNSF unit leading a load of empty coal hoppers.
The sun was about to set as the ARRC party arrived at the Quaker Steak and Lube, located next to the Vermilion River. It made for a nice ending to the day.